Photo by Steve White
The immigration issue has been of the most heated discussion topics in American politics for decades. As a nation built on immigration from all over the world, it is an especially sensitive topic in the United States. Presented below are some of the major pros and cons of immigration policy in the United States.
Some claim that immigration is all about numbers. If current immigration levels continue, the U.S. population is projected to grow to about 420 million by 2050. In other words, the entire population of Mexico will be added to the U.S. population in just a few decades.
As a nation of immigrants from the beginning, the United States has long welcomed newcomers with a tacit understanding that they would have to assimilate to their new homeland in ways such as learning English. Yet in more recent times, parts of the country are becoming bilingual as fewer immigrants feel the need to learn the new language. Many Americans see this as purely acceptable on grounds of enriching U.S. culture and society, while others feel that they should never have to learn a new language to communicate to fellow Americans.
Immigration can lead to an exchange of values, knowledge, expertise and perspectives. Due to immigration, Americans have been exposed to many diverse cultures vastly different from their own, adding to the richness of the melting pot that is America.
It is widely believed that without illegal immigrants working in the U.S., our economy would suffer because such immigrants currently make up a large chunk of the U.S. cheap labour force. One counter-argument is that illegal immigrants would naturally be replaced by legal immigrants, which would be more beneficial to the economy. In addition, many Americans argue that the costs of providing services, such as education and health care, to immigrants are an overwhelming and burden on the U.S. taxpayer, offsetting any economic growth brought about my immigration.
Distribution of Wealth
Some believe that immigration is key in opening the global market and spreading wealth into less developed countries. Others oppose this on the grounds that the jobs and wealth of a country, in this case the United States, are its property and that immigration allows for the distribution of wealth to those that it does not rightfully belong to.
Exchange of Expertise
While some view immigration as a means of exchanging expertise in a mutually beneficial trade-off, others see it as a "brain drain," or a drain of disproportionate amounts of knowledge and skill from one country into another. Such as view sees poor countries as losing their talented, educated minorities to the U.S.
Recently it was estimated that one quarter of U.S. inmates are immigrants, helping to confirm the notion that the arrival of less educated immigrants increases crimes, such as theft, smuggling and violence.
- Photo by Steve White